Question for all Principals out there:
Does your school have a good school culture?
This is another criteria expat parents are looking for when choosing a school for their children. How would you define school culture? According to the Glossary of Education Reform, school culture is comprised of,
“Beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, connections, written and unwritten rules which influence the climate of a school.”
Parents, teaching staff, management and administrators all contribute to the culture of a particular school. When deciding to join a school abroad, expat parents want to see strong interactions amongst all members of the staff working together for a shared purpose, a shared vision. Most principals strive to build this in their schools as it’s a key element to:
- Students’ well-being
- School prestige
- A low turn-over of teaching staff
- Keeping behavioural issues to a minimum
School principals are far too often preoccupied with high test scores than building a school culture, despite the fact that the following articles underlines a strong relation between school culture and performance. This article: What makes a good school culture? underlines that principals who fail to build a great school culture are making a grave error. The article explains that a school culture can be either strong or weak, as well as positive or negative, depending on the interaction of the people forming its community.
How do we make sure that the schools we visit provide a strong, positive school culture for your child?
We ensure that:
- The successes of both teachers and students are acknowledged
- There are high academic expectations and students are aware of them and strive to measure their learning accordingly
- School academic and administrative staff model positive behaviours for the students
- Parents are taken into account when important management decisions are made
- Lessons are student- centred and they maximise each student’s potential
- All students have equal access to academic support if needed
- School policies promote students’ emotion and physical safety.
The above mentioned article has a great paragraph on advice for schools which need to work on their school culture.
Some tasks to consider: create professional learning communities, have an anti-bullying policy, establish a cross-section leadership team, create a student advisory committee, hold events which celebrate diversity and inclusion.